How to Test the Reading Level of Your Child
WRT, Burt, and Wide Range Reading Tests You Can Use at Home
If you're wondering about your child's reading level, or whether your child is reading at, below, or above grade level, there are 3 fairly simple, but relatively accurate reading tests that you can use. These are free reading tests:
1) The Burt Reading Test - download from rrf.org.uk
2) The Word Reading Test (WRT from Quick Adult Reading Inventory) - download from lincs.ed.gov
3) The Wide Range Reading Test - download here
Of the 3, the most widely used is the Burt Test, which you can probably find being used in most English speaking regions. I'll discuss this test last, along with the results of my own children. So first I'll start off with the WRT and Wide Range tests.
(WRT) Word Reading Test from QARI
The WRT test comes from the Quick Adult Reading Inventory provided free by LINCS (Literacy Information and Communication System) - an initiative of the US Department of Education. This reading test provides 5 groups of 10 words ranging (List A to E) from GE (grade equivalent) 1 up to GE 10.
It's fairly simple and self explanatory. A child attempts to read the listed words, and a grade equivalent level is determined depending on how many the child gets correct. So for example, if a child reads all the words in list A and B correct, but gets only 7 out of 10 words in list C, then this child's reading level is GE 5.
From my experience, I find that this WRT test is (just very) slightly on the easier side when compared to the other 2 available tests. When my children performed these tests, they always tended to score slightly higher with the WRT (usually by about 1/2 to 1 grade level higher) compared to Burt Test.
- My 5 year 9 months old daughter scored perfect on lists A, B, C, and got 8 out of 10 on list D, which gives a GE 8.
- My 3 year 9 months old son scored perfect on lists A and B, and got 6 out of 10 on list C. His result is a GE 4, and missed GE 5 just slightly.
The Wide Range Reading Test
This test is provided by DonPotter.net, and in terms of difficulty, it is fairly close with the Burt test - although the first few grades may be just slightly easier, as I had also found my children to score about 1/2 a level higher. The one good thing about this test is that it tests reading levels all the way up to grade 12, whereas Burt tests up to grade 8 and WRT tests up to grade 10.
With the Wide Range test, there are 19 rows of words to read - each row increases in difficulty. A child tries to continue reading as far as possible, and a raw score to the right of each row gives an approximate reading grade level.
For example, the first row starts with a handful of alphabet letters, and gives a raw score of 8 (kindergarten level). The last row contains 6 more difficult words giving a raw score of 128 (grade 12, 8th month).
- My 5 year 9 months old daughter had a raw score of 75 (Grade 7, 5th month)
- My 3 year 9 months old son scored 50 (Grade 5)
- On the Burt test, they scored Grade 7 and Grade 3. So as you can see, both WRT and Wide Range tend to score higher than the Burt test.
So which test should you use?
All 3 of course!
I do believe that by doing all 3 tests and taking the average of the results will give you an accurate assessment of your child's reading level. I have not discussed the Burt Test yet, but I will in the next part.
Curious to find out how we enabled our children to achieve such advanced reading skills at such young ages?